Two questions to Eleanor Bauer
What is this project’s starting point?
“This project is a fantastic opportunity to continue working in several lines of interest that I hold dear: experimentation with performance genres, the collaborative structuring of authorship in dance and music, and artistic practice as a way of questioning, undoing, and destabilizing conventions of identity formation. Jonatan Leandoer Håstad/Yung Lean is moving in new directions with his music for this project, with multi-instrumentalist and video artist Frederik Valentin, he is moving away from hip-hop and into a territory less-known to the public from him as a singer/songwriter. He and I share an interest in poetry, so the poetics of his lyrics and the poetics of my choreographic process are a big part of the meeting and the sense we make together. The collaboration with the design team – Josefin Hinders, Jonatan Winbo, and Pontus Pettersson – has been crucial to the project from the start as we all create a world together from the shared poetics and images. The dancers of Cullberg are brilliant to work with in this context: intelligent, individually inquisitive, experienced, and open-minded – they each offer a unique voice and tone to the work. There is a real alchemy between all of these elements unfolding”.
What are your thoughts on making a commissioned work for Cullberg?
“It’s wonderful to be able to work with so many excellent dancers. It’s almost impossible to coordinate work of this scale in a self-produced freelance situation. So it’s just a really exciting opportunity to work in ways that I don’t often get the chance to. Large groups make some things easier – when one person out of three is having a bad day, there is a lot of drag on the process. When one person out of 17 is having a bad day, 16 people are there to carry their weight. Like with activism, more people you have, the more momentum you have. But that also means that it’s slower to make changes, to steer a large ship, so to speak. You have inherently a bit less spontaneity with a large group, because there is so much more organization needed, on a practical level but also in terms of communicating an idea and getting on the same page with each other. I am thinking about the large group as an opportunity to underline the differences in interpretation, rather than the necessity of agreement, so really working with everyone’s unique understanding of a score or instruction to maintain those individual comprehensions. And the dancers really are quite different from each other, even with all the hours of movement they share, their different histories and training are still evident. I like commissions because it means I am not the one who chooses who is in the room, so I can’t project expectations of people based on desire for something I think I know of them. I get to know the people through the piece and get to know the piece through the people. I think that is beautiful. Is has been precious getting to know Jonatan/Yung Lean and each of the dancers through this process. Pluralism is something I care a lot about in general, ethically, politically, culturally, and aesthetically, and you can really deal with pluralism when you work like that. I also appreciate that the company consults the dancers before hiring a choreographer. Before any project was planned, they first invited me to do a workshop with the dancers just to meet each other and see how we might work together. I know it sounds like auditioning the choreographer instead of auditioning the dancers, but I think that’s great, to disturb or level that traditional hierarchy. In the end, it’s just about meeting people and finding out how to share interests. When art is so often motivated by and valued in terms of affinities, interests, and tastes, then the affinities, interests, and tastes of the people working together have make sense to each other.”
Eleanor Bauer is a performer and choreographer working at the intersections of dance, writing, and music. From talk shows to evening-length ensemble pieces, her versatile works range in scale, media, and genre, traversing disparate methods and categories of performance. Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Bauer studied at Idyllwild Arts Academy in California, holds a BFA in Dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, completed the Research Cycle at P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels, and is a PhD candidate in Choreography at Stockholm University of the Arts. She has been producing her own pieces via GoodMove vzw in Brussels since 2007, touring internationally to critical acclaim. She was artist in residence at Kaaitheater in Brussels from 2013-2016, and co-founded the open-source format for exchange of practices in the performing arts called Nobody’s Business in 2015 (www.nobodysbusiness.info). Bauer has collaborated and worked as a performer with, among others, choreographers Xavier Le Roy, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker/Rosas, Boris Charmatz, Trisha Brown, Mette Ingvartsen, David Zambrano; with visual artists Matthew Barney and Emily Roysdon; and with music artists Ictus ensemble and The Knife. Bauer has worked in close collaboration with musician and composer Chris Peck since 2003, creating several original works together over the years.
Jonatan Leandoer Håstad/Yung Lean
The tale of Yung Lean is as unassuming as it is wildly exploratory, a contradictory narrative about a misfit stranger from Stockholm who became a worldwide phenomenon – a protracted and at times grievous metamorphosis from pubertal, post-internet novelty to D.I.Y icon with an extensive, organic influence over anything and everything from off-beat art projects and mainstream culture alike. Originating with a nomadic upbringing in Vietnam and Belarus via secretly experimenting and recording in a highschool computer lab to first hand encounters of the triumphs and tragedies of rockstar hyperbole, the mere four years have passed since Ginseng Strip 2002 saw the light of day. It has set him off on a seemingly genreless and open minded dispatch into the past, present and future of pop culture, an alternate reality where early internet aesthetics, late 90’s southern rap and a punk mindset all fused perfectly together.The momentum born from the gentle, abstract touch of his first tracks were swiftly embodied by Kyoto, electrified by Yoshi City deconstructed again via Hoover and then re-animated by Hennesy & Sailor Moon; emerging each time perhaps not rejuvenated but in many ways re invented, his trademark lethargic flow and singular lyrical content elevated and seamlessly integrated with GUD and Yung Shermans’s resourceful and labelfree sonic scenery. Soon to be 22 years of age, the past years have been huge for Yung Lean; besides kicking off with the independently released, eclectic album Warlord in 2016 and embarking on a sold out world tour, it also saw him featured on Frank Ocean’s Blonde, star in Calvin Klein’s #mycal-vins campaign, launch his own Sadboys Gear brand, co-design a sneaker for Eytys and drop a full length punk album together with GUD as Död Mark – to name a few highlights. Last year Yung Lean released Stranger, his 4th studio album project that was followed by an extensive world tour. The collaboration with Eleanor Bauer and Cullberg is his first commissioned work.